DP10415 Crime Scars: Recessions and the Making of Career Criminals

Author(s): Brian Bell, Anna Bindler, Steve Machin
Publication Date: February 2015
Keyword(s): crime, recessions, unemployment
JEL(s): J64, K42
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10415

Recessions lead to short-term job loss, lower levels of happiness and decreasing income levels. There is growing evidence that workers who first join the labour market during economic downturns suffer from poor job matches that have a sustained detrimental effect on their wages and career progression. This paper uses a range of US and UK data to document a more disturbing long-run effect of recessions: young people who leave school in the midst of recessions are significantly more likely to lead a life of crime than those entering a buoyant labour market. Thus crime scars from higher entry level unemployment rates are both long lasting and substantial.